Jews have been donating towards repairs for a mosque damaged in an arson attack in Florida.
A crowdfunding page set up by Adeel Karim has raised tens of thousands of dollars towards repairing the Islamic Society of New Tampa mosque, which was targeted last Friday morning. But it wasn’t until Karim took a closer look at the donations flooding in that he noticed a surprising pattern.
“I couldn't understand why people were donating in what seemed like weird amounts to the cause,” he wrote on his Facebook page. “There are sums of 18, 36, 72 dollars etc. Then I figured out after clicking on the names Avi, Cohen, Goldstein, Rubin, Fisher....”
Mr Karim, a member of the mosque, realised that Jews were donating in multiples of 18 as a form of chai.
“It wishes the recipient a long life,” wrote Mr Karim. “You learn something new every day. The Jewish faith has shown up in force to support our New Tampa Islamic community. I'm floored.”
Mr Karim’s fundraising page has now raised over $60,000 (£48,000) from 1,605 supporters.
Tampa mayor, Bob Buckhorn, said arson targeting a place of worship was no different from the wave of antisemitic attacks on Jewish community centres across the country.
“There are tens of thousands of Tampians who do not happen to be Muslim but today stand with our Muslim community and say not on my watch, not in my city,” said Mr Buckthorn shortly after the attack.
Muslims later arrived for Friday worship and were directed to another building on the site, which was too small for the several hundred people expected, so a local church offered to host them until the repairs are made.
“The story here is love,” said Karim. “Love overcomes fear.”
Meanwhile, Muslim veterans have offered to patrol Jewish community centres or synagogues. “I’m #MuslimMarine in Chicagoland area. If your synagogue or Jewish cemetery needs someone to stand guard, count me in. Islam requires it.”
Others responded in kind: “Houston area Jewish community, I spent ten years protecting our country and I will gladly protect Jewish places of worship if you need me!” wrote Khalid Whalid.
Last month, a synagogue in Texas was offered for use by the Muslim community after the local mosque burned down, while a show of interfaith support raised over $1 million to rebuild the mosque.